Organizer defends pro-Palestinian rallies in the Quad Cities
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Pro-Palestinian rallies have been held each Saturday at various locations in the Quad Cities for the past month. In the beginning, there were about a couple dozen people, but this has since grown to well over one hundred participants.
James is a citizen of the Quad Cities. He works here and is studying at a local college to advance his career in engineering. On the weekends, he leads rallies in support of Palestinians and their struggles amid the war between Israel and Hamas.
Health officials say the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 13,000 amid Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. This is why James has organized these weekly rallies calling for peace.
James prefers to be identified by only his first name due to threats he has received, for what he says is retaliation against his opposition to Israel’s military actions in Gaza. However, he believes his stance against Israel is misunderstood and those threatening him do not understand his intentions.
He wants to set the record straight.
“The Palestinians deserve one thing, and that’s their God given right to have equality,” said James, “no matter what regime they’re under or what state they’re under, that is what they deserve. And they are not getting it and they need it. And I feel like it’s right to demand for it.”
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” is a chant that has been a source of controversy at pro-Palestinian rallies across the nation. And it can be heard at the local rallies as well.
It is a political slogan referring to the geographical area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, which includes all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. It can be used to suggest the annihilation of the state of Israel.
James says this has been misinterpreted. He believes Palestinians deserve to be free regardless of a single or two-state solution.
“From the river to the sea, Palestinians will be free means that they will have equality and justice and freedom from the oppression of their tyranny,” said James.
But why should it matter to those in the U.S. or the Quad Cities?
James says it should matter for all American taxpayers.
“Do you think that Israel could support this type of campaign without our money?” said James, “No. We’re funding it. So that’s why we should care.”
James says it runs counter to America’s core values to fund a war that has become excessive in regard to the number of civilian casualties and deaths.
“I am an American. I’m cut from the same cloth as you. I know that we care.” said James. “And when we see the pictures of children dying on the news, it hurts. We need to vouch for the security, sovereignty and peace, of Israelis and Palestinians.”
Recent rallies have been held outside the offices of U.S. House Representatives Miller-Meeks and Sorensen, who have both proclaimed their support for Israel.
James says the weekly rallies will continue until the bombing in Gaza comes to an end.
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